Beyond the mere importance of a divisional game, these NFC West rivals are also vying to keep pace with the NFL’s last unbeaten team, the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a rebound opportunity for the Rams, whose short week of preparation comes off their worst performance of the season against said Cards -- plenty to fix in a short window for Sean McVay’s team. The Seahawks come off a big divisional win of their own, but after giving up 457 yards to a 49ers team that amassed that total despite having to change quarterbacks, there is much to correct this week in Seattle, too.
Here are four things to watch Thursday night when the Seahawks play host to the Rams:
- Big night on tap for Stafford. This matchup portends a rough night for the Seahawks’ pass defense, in particular, a struggling group of cornerbacks. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford carries the NFL’s third-best passer rating (117.6), and faces a Seattle defense allowing an NFL-worst 444.5 yards per game. The Seahawks’ sack rate of 5.4 percent ranks middle of the pack league-wide, which isn’t good enough to protect a secondary that just recorded the NFL’s ugliest coverage bust in three years. Stafford might need to make an adjustment or two after his least impressive game of the year against Arizona -- over-targeting Cooper Kupp, perhaps -- but look for an air show just the same.
- Wilson on fire. As good as Stafford has been this season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been a bit better. He leads the NFL in passer rating (129.9). He ranks first among quarterbacks in yards per attempt (9.6), yet also ranks fourth in completion percentage (72.5). He and Teddy Bridgewater are the only NFL’s only two quarterbacks with more than one start this season who have yet to throw an interception. The Seattle offense’s second-half woes, well-documented leading up to Week 4, were vanquished by Wilson against the 49ers. The Rams defense has leaked oil this year compared to 2020, so don’t be surprised if Wilson trades punches with Stafford in a high-scoring affair.
- Ramsey-Metcalf worth watching. There won’t be a more enthralling head-to-head matchup than Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey squaring off with the Seahawks’ man-child receiver, DK Metcalf. Ramsey’s size (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) helps him hold his own with bigger receivers, but every corner in the league, Ramsey included, gives up a lot of size to Metcalf (6-4, 235). Another advantage for Metcalf: Wilson’s ability to extend plays, which inevitably leads to receivers separating from even the best of coverage efforts. Throw in the home-field edge, and Ramsey’s challenge is stiff, but he’s been up to this test before -- he blanketed Metcalf effectively last season.
- Holding on. Somehow, the Seahawks have yet to be flagged for offensive holding this season, the only team in the NFL that can make that claim after four games. They’ll face one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers in the Rams’ Aaron Donald, who gets held routinely -- called or otherwise -- on his fearsome path to opposing quarterbacks. The dominant defensive tackle will loop outside at times and draw a block from a tackle, but for the most part, it will be the Seahawks’ interior front -- guards Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson, and center Kyle Fuller -- charged with keeping the line’s holding flag-free streak alive against Donald.